|Publication number||US6826602 B1|
|Application number||US 10/243,347|
|Publication date||Nov 30, 2004|
|Filing date||Sep 12, 2002|
|Priority date||Sep 12, 2002|
|Publication number||10243347, 243347, US 6826602 B1, US 6826602B1, US-B1-6826602, US6826602 B1, US6826602B1|
|Inventors||Barrett M. Kreiner, Donna K. Hodges, Jonathan M. Peterson|
|Original Assignee||Bellsouth Intellectual Property Corporation|
|Export Citation||BiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan|
|Patent Citations (6), Non-Patent Citations (1), Referenced by (6), Classifications (7), Legal Events (5)|
|External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet|
The present invention relates generally to computing systems, and more particularly, to systems and methods for data distribution.
Significant effort has been devoted to optimizing the operation of large networks such as, for example, wide area networks (WAN's), the Internet, and the World-Wide-Web (“the Web”). To date, however, those efforts have largely been directed at improving the operation of networks from the perspective of consumers of data. For example, in a network such as the Web, when a Web browser issues a request for a Web page, without network optimization it may be necessary to traverse a large portion of the network in order to reach the one Web server on which the requested page exists. Of course, traversing a large portion of the Web can take a relatively long time. One technique for addressing this limitation has been to distribute the same data items on many servers throughout the network. When a request for a distributed data item is made, it is likely that the data item can be accessed quickly without traversing a large portion of the Web.
While efforts have been made to improve the performance of networks for consumers of data, little has been done to address the needs of data providers. Many individuals and small businesses operate their own data servers, which may be, for example, Web servers. These same individuals and small businesses often have limited resources for operating these servers. For example, an individual's or small business' server systems may have limited storage and processing capacity. Also, the network connections maintained by individuals and small businesses often have limited capacity. For example, individuals and small businesses often use digital subscriber lines (DSL) connections, which have a limited capacity for uploading data. This capacity can quickly become saturated, especially when numerous simultaneous data requests are made to the same data server.
Illustrative systems and methods for distributing data while conserving data content providers' computing resources are disclosed herein. In an illustrative embodiment, a first computing system, which may be referred to as a proxy server, identifies data items located on a data provider's server that are infrequently changed, i.e. static data items. The identification step may be performed in any of numerous different ways including for example, via identification of static data items by the data provider's server, or by searching through the data files on a data provider's server to identify files that have not recently changed. A copy of the data items identified as infrequently changing are communicated from the data provider's server and received at the first computing system. The first computing system forwards copies of the static data items to at least one other computing system, which is is also a proxy server. Thereafter, when a request is received at the first computing system for one of the static data items, a message is sent to the data provider's server indicating that the data item has been requested. The first computing system communicates instructions to the third computing system to forward the data item to the computer system that requested the data item.
Other features of systems and methods for distributing data are further apparent from the following detailed description of presently preferred exemplary embodiments taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, of which:
FIG. 1 is a high level diagram of an exemplary network system in which data content is distributed;
FIG. 2 is an exemplary Web page comprising data content that may be distributed using systems and methods according to those disclosed herein;
FIG. 3 is an exemplary Web page comprising data content that may be distributed using systems and methods according to those disclosed herein;
FIG. 4 is a flow chart of an exemplary method for distributing data content; and
FIG. 5 is a diagram of a computing device operable for use in performing the disclosed method.
Exemplary systems and methods for distributing data content are described below with reference to FIGS. 1-5. It will be appreciated by those of ordinary skill in the art that the description given herein with respect to those figures is for exemplary purposes only and is not intended in any way to limit the scope of the invention.
In an illustrative data distribution system, data items that are stored on a data provider's content server and which do not frequently change, i.e. relatively static files, are identified and uploaded to a computing system referred to herein as a proxy server. The proxy server computing system distributes the data items to other proxy server computing systems. When a request for one of the static data items is made to the data provider's content server, it is received first at the proxy server computing system. The proxy server computing system communicates an indication to the content server that the data item has been requested and forwards instructions to one of the plurality of other proxy server computing systems to forward the data item to the computing system that initiated the request.
FIG. 1 provides a high level diagram of an illustrative network system for distributing data content. As shown, computing systems 110, which may be, for example, personal computers, are operably coupled to Internet 112 and may be used to access data content stored at data servers 116. In an illustrative embodiment, computing systems 110 may have Web browsing software such as, for example, Netscape Navigator, operating thereon and data servers 116 may have Web server software such as, for example, Apache Web Server, operating thereon. Accordingly, in an illustrative embodiment, computing systems 110 may access Web pages stored on data servers 116. Data items such as Web pages may be distributed into Internet 112 and stored on multiple data servers 116 position close to computing systems 110 so as to reduce access times.
Data might also be distributed via private network 120, which is communicatively coupled to Internet 112 via gateway 122. Private network 120 may be a network operated by an organization such as, for example, an Internet service provider (ISP). Further, private network 120 may be, for example, a network operated by a telephone service provider that also provides data services. In an illustrative embodiment, private network 120 is communicatively coupled to a plurality of multiplexing devices 130 a, 130 b, and 130 c, which may be, for example, digital subscriber line access multiplexors (DSLAM's). Multiplexing devices 130 a-c are communicatively coupled to proxy servers 132 a, 132 b, and 132 c, which operate as described below to store, and distribute data items. Multiplexing devices 130 a-c and proxy servers 132 a-c may be co-located at central office (CO) locations 134. Proxy server 132 d is communicatively coupled to gateway 122 to provide a data distribution point close to Internet 112. As shown, proxy servers 132 a-d are located at the network edge and are therefore close to data content providers as well as consumers of that content.
Small office/home office (SOHO) data servers 140 a-c and SOHO computing systems 142 a-c are communicatively coupled to DSLAM's 130 a-c via digital subscriber lines (DSL) 144. SOHO data servers 144 a-c have data stored thereon that may be accessed from data access computing systems 142 a-c and 110. In an illustrative embodiment, SOHO data servers 144 a-c have Web server software running thereon for serving Web page data, and computing systems 142 a-c have Web browser software thereon for viewing Web page data.
Many small businesses that operate out of small offices or home offices have limited resources to devote to data serving capabilities. As a result, many SOHO data servers 140 a-c have limited memory and processing capacity. Likewise, DSL lines 144 that provide network coupling have limited capacity for uploading data from data servers 140 a-c. For example, many DSL connections have an effective data upload capacity of approximately 128 Kbits/second. As a result of these capacity limitations, data servers 140 a-c and DSL lines 144 can easily become saturated during periods of high activity.
According to the illustrative systems and methods disclosed herein, proxy servers 132 a-c identify data items stored on data servers 140 a-c that do not change frequently, i.e. those data items that are relatively static. These data items are loaded onto proxy servers 132 a-d. Thereafter, when the static data items are requested at data access computing systems 142 a-c and 110, the data items can be downloaded from proxy servers 132 a-d, rather than from SOHO data servers 140 a-c. Thus, the number of data requests directly handled by the SOHO servers 140 a-c is reduced, as is the data traffic on DSL communication lines 144.
SOHO data servers 140 a-c may be used to distribute a wide variety of data. Often, SOHO data servers 140 a-c are employed to provide business-related data to potential clients and to facilitate business transactions. For example, many small businesses sell products over the Web and devote their data servers 140 a-c to performing these Web transactions. FIG. 2 depicts an exemplary Web page 210 that may be stored on one of SOHO data servers 140 a-c. Exemplary web page 210, which can be described in an HTML file, provides product information regarding toy soldiers that are being offered for sale perhaps in connection with a Web site devoted to selling toys. As shown, Web page 210 comprises picture 220 depicting a toy soldier, text description 222, which describes the particular toy soldier model, and buttons 224 for navigating to an order page or returning to a selection listing. In some instances, data items such as Web page 210 of FIG. 2 may not frequently change. Furthermore, Web page 210 does not require any processing logic to be performed on data input on Web page 210. Data items with these characteristics are ideal for being processed and distributed as described below in connection with FIG. 4.
FIG. 3 depicts an exemplary Web page 310 for purchasing the toy soldiers described in Web page 210. As shown, Web page 310, which has a corresponding HTML file, comprises picture 220 and description 222 from Web page 210. Web page 310 further comprises data entry fields 320 for entering information attendant to the transaction such as, for example, the number of items, credit card number, credit card expiration date, credit card company, and mailing address. When a user enters information corresponding to these fields, the information is processed by the SOHO data server 140 that issued the Web page. Because Web page 310 requires processing by the issuing data server 140, the entire file corresponding to Web page 310 is not a good candidate for caching at proxy server 132. However, portions of Web page 310 such as description 222 and picture 210 are likely static and do not involve processing by the issuing computer. According to an aspect of the illustrative embodiment, these static page portions or components, which are referred to herein as edge-side-assets (ESA's), may be cached at proxy servers 132. In such an embodiment, the file corresponding to Web page 310 comprises a command for incorporating the ESA's. For example, an HTML file corresponding to Web page 310 may comprise HTML “include” commands indicating that particular ESA's are to be inserted at an appropriate location when Web page 310 is displayed.
FIG. 4 is a flow chart depicting an illustrative method for distributing data items. As shown, at step 410, a first computing system identifies a data item that does not frequently change and which is stored on a second computing system. Generally, the first computing system is located at the network edge closest to the second computing system. For example, proxy server 132 a may identify a file located on SOHO data server 140 a that does not frequently change. The file may correspond, for example, to Web page 210. According to another aspect of the illustrative embodiment, proxy server 132 a might also identify that a portion of a Web page such as a picture that is incorporated in a Web page is suitable for caching. For example, proxy server 132 a may identify that description 222 and/or picture 220 of Web page 310 do not frequently change. The step of identifying a data file that does not frequently change, or is static, may be performed in any of numerous different ways. For example, SOHO data server 140 a may initiate contact with proxy server 132 a and identify files that are static. In one embodiment, SOHO data server 140 a may establish a connection to proxy server 132 a using FTP or another protocol. In an alternative embodiment, data server 140 a may upload an index file of static files to proxy server 132 a. In another illustrative embodiment, proxy server 132 a may actively search the contents of SOHO data server 140 a for files that have not recently changed. This may be accomplished, for example, wherein proxy server 132 a is exposed to data server's 140 a hard disk via network file sharing (NFS), server message block (SMB), or a similar protocol.
At step 412, the computing system that identified the static files that are candidates for caching, receives copies of the static files. For example, proxy server 132 a may receive an HTML file corresponding to Web page 210 and any static files such as picture files that are displayed as part of Web page 210. According to another embodiment, where a particular data file is not itself static but incorporates static files, the static files are received at the proxy server 132 a. For example, with respect to Web page 310, files comprising picture 220 or text 222 may be received at proxy server 132 a. According to an aspect of one exemplary embodiment, the files may have a live-to-date or expiration date that identifies the length of time that the files may be presumed to be valid and presented in response to a data request.
At step 414, proxy server 132 a that received the static file(s) transmits a copy of the same files to other proxy servers 132 b-d in the network. Thus, the static files are positioned along the network edge where they are close to data access computing systems 142 and 110 that might request the data items.
At step 416, proxy server 132 a receives a request from one of data access computing systems 142 or 110 for data including one or more of the data items that are received at step 412. The data request is routed to the proxy server at the edge of the network closest to the data server on which the data originally resides. For example, proxy server 132 a may receive a request for Web page 210 wherein the HTML file corresponding to the Web page 210 has been stored on proxy server 132 a. Alternatively, proxy server 132 a may receive a request for Web page 310 wherein a file corresponding to picture 210 that is displayed as part of Web page 310 is stored on proxy server 132 a.
At step 418, proxy server 132 a communicates to SOHO data server 140 a on which the requested data item is originally stored, that the data item has been requested. For example, in the exemplary scenario is wherein Web page 210 is requested, proxy serve 132 a transmits a message to data server 140 a indicating that Web page 210 has been requested. This message may be transmitted in the format of an HTTP “head message,” for example. According to another exemplary scenario, the requested data file may itself not be static but may comprise or reference a static file. For example, a request may be received at proxy server 132 a for Web page 310. An HTML file corresponding to Web page 310 may not be stored on proxy server 132 a because the page 310 is not static. However, a file corresponding to picture 220 may be stored on proxy server 132 a. Accordingly, at step 418, proxy server forwards the file request to data server 140, wherein the file request implicitly includes an indication that the static data item has been requested.
At step 420, it is determined whether the requested file has been cached at proxy server 132. If so, at step 422, proxy server 132 a communicates instruction to one of the other proxy servers 132 b-d to forward the requested data item to the requesting computing system. For example, proxy server 132 a may communicate instructions to server 132 c to forward the file corresponding to Web page 210 to the requesting computing system 142 c. In one illustrative embodiment, the instructions are compressed prior to communication.
If at step 420, the requested file was not cached, proxy server 132 a waits for and receives instructions, which may be in the form of an HTML file, from data server 140 a at step 424. The instructions may comprise an HTML file that includes by reference one or more data items that have been cached. For example, proxy server 132 a may receive instructions for creating a Web page such as 310 wherein description 222 and picture 220 have been cached and are included by reference. Specifically, files corresponding to description 222 or picture 220 may be included by reference in the instructions, possibly using an HTML “include” command. At step 426, proxy server 132 a forwards the instructions to another proxy server 132 c along with additional instructions to forward the assembled data file to computing system 142 c.
FIG. 5 is a diagram of a generic computing device, which may be operable to be used in the above-described network. As shown in FIG. 5, computing device 520 includes processor 522, system memory 524, and system bus 526 that couples various system components including system memory 524 to processor 522. System memory 524 may include read-only memory (ROM) and/or random access memory (RAM). Computing device 520 may further include hard-drive 528, which provides storage for computer readable instructions, data structures, program modules, data, and the like. A user (not shown) may enter commands and information into the computing device 520 through input devices such as keyboard 540 or mouse 542. A display device 544, such as a monitor, a flat panel display, or the like is also connected to computing device 520. Communications device 543, which may be a modem, network interface card, or the like, provides for communications over a network. System memory 524 and/or hard-drive 528 may be loaded with any one of several computer operating systems such as WINDOWS NT operating system, WINDOWS 2000 operating system, LINUX operating system, and the like.
Those skilled in the art understand that computer readable instructions for implementing the above-described processes, such as those described with reference to FIG. 4, can be generated and stored on one of a plurality of computer readable media such as a magnetic disk or CD-ROM. Further, a computer such as that described with reference to FIG. 5 may be arranged with other similarly equipped computers in a network, and each computer may be loaded with computer readable instructions for performing the above-described processes. Specifically, referring to FIG. 5, processor 522 may be programmed to operate in accordance with the above-described processes.
Thus, systems and methods for distributing data while preserving data content provider resources have been disclosed. These novel systems and methods provide for caching static data elements stored on a data server at the network node to which the data server connects. Caching static data items minimizes the number of data accesses that need to be made to the data server. Accordingly, the systems and methods provide efficient data distribution while conserving the limited resources of data content servers.
While systems and methods have been described and illustrated with reference to specific embodiments, those skilled in the art will recognize that modification and variations may be made without departing from the principles described above and set forth in the following claims. For example, while the system has been described as comprising proxy servers 132 a-d, much of the functionality described as being provided by proxy servers 132 a-d may be incorporated into DSLAM's 130 a-c. Furthermore, while the exemplary data items described herein are Web pages, other types of data may similarly be distributed using the illustrative methods and systems. Also, while the cached data items are described as being distributed automatically to all proxy servers, the cached data may be distributed on an as-needed basis as well. Accordingly, reference should be made to the appended claims as defining the scope of the invention.
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|International Classification||G06F13/14, H04L29/08|
|Cooperative Classification||H04L67/2895, H04L67/2852|
|European Classification||H04L29/08N27S4, H04L29/08N27X9|
|Sep 12, 2002||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BELLSOUTH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CORPORATION, DELAW
Free format text: ASSIGNMENT OF ASSIGNORS INTEREST;ASSIGNORS:KREINER, BARRETT M.;HODGES, DONNA K.;PETERSON, JONATHAN M.;REEL/FRAME:013297/0252;SIGNING DATES FROM 20020819 TO 20020828
|Jan 8, 2003||AS||Assignment|
Owner name: BELLSOUTH INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CORPORATION, DELAW
Free format text: A CORRECTIVE ASSIGNMENT TO CORRECT THE ASSIGNEE ADDRESS ON REEL 013297 FRAME 0252;ASSIGNORS:KREINER, BARRETT M.;HODGES, DONNA K.;PETERSON, JONATHAN M.;REEL/FRAME:013630/0672;SIGNING DATES FROM 20020819 TO 20020828
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